Private Business. - Coast Protection Bill, 1962: Committee Stage.

Government amendment No. 1:
In page 2, line 23, to delete the words "of a county".

This is a minor drafting amendment, which follows the proposed amendment of Section 2.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 1, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 2.
Government amendment No. 2:
In subsection (3) to add the following paragraphs:
"(b) Where—
(i) the council of a county have considered a report submitted under subsection (2) of this section and have decided not to make a declaration under this subsection, and
(ii) the proposals are for coast protection works wholly within an urban district,
the council shall send the report to the council of the urban district.
(c) Where a report is sent under paragraph (b) of this subsection to the council of an urban district, the council, if satisfied that land within the urban district is being progressively damaged by the continuing encroachment of the sea, as distinct from occasional or abnormal storms, and that the encroachment is liable to endanger the safety of a harbour, the buildings or amenities of a residential area or other valuable property, may, with the consent of the Minister for Local Government and subject to the council of a county having undertaken to make such contribution to the balance referred to in paragraph (b) of section 16 of this Act as that Minister has approved of, declare that the promotion of a coast protection scheme is expedient and that the Commissioners should be asked to carry out a preliminary examination."

The section as passed by Dáil Éireann enables a county council or the corporation of a county borough to investigate and to have a report prepared on any proposals for coast protection works. If they are satisfied that land within their area is being progressively damaged by the continuing encroachment of the sea as distinct from an occasional storm and that valuable property is being threatened, they can declare that the promotion of a coast protection scheme is expedient, and ask the Commissioners of Public Works to carry out a preliminary examination. Where the encroachment affects land in two or more counties, a single report will be prepared and one council will be named as the promoting authority. The necessary powers for entry on lands,et cetera, are provided for the purposes of the preparation of a report. The consideration of a report and the making of a declaration shall be reserved functions.

It would be impracticable for the Commissioners to deal initially with all applications for coast protection work from private persons, commercial concerns or others. The onus of initiating action for protection schemes is, therefore, placed on local authorities who, with their local knowledge, should be in a position to assess the merits of applications. They would be expected to reject applications that are unworthy of serious consideration.

In the course of the debates in the Dáil Deputies were concerned that a county council might be unwilling to promote a coast protection scheme for lands within an urban district. We hope that there will be co-operation between local authorities in the promotion of schemes but if the circumstances envisaged by the Deputies should arise, it would be reasonable that the urban district council should have some authority to initiate action. The amendment, therefore, provides that, if a county council decide not to promote a scheme for the benefit of lands wholly within an urban district, the urban district council may, with the consent of the Minister for Local Government and subject to an undertaking by the county council to make a contribution which the Minister approves, declare that the promotion of a protection scheme is expedient and ask the Commissioners to carry out a preliminary examination. It is felt that even though a county council may be unwilling to promote a scheme for an urban area, they should make some contribution towards the cost of the works. I recommend the amendment to the House.

I should like some clarification on the position as changed by this amendment and the reason why the amendment is being brought in this particular form. As I understand it, the position under the Bill as it was was that the county council were the promoting authority but the urban authority within the area could, where appropriate, agree to contribute under Section 17. The position now is that in default of action by a county council, the urban authority within whose area the problem of the danger to the land lies, can promote a scheme and the county council may then agree to contribute.

Now, there are two points I think here which I should like to bring forward. The first one is that the amendment, as the Parliamentary Secretary said, is brought forward to meet the case where a county council refuse to act in a case of coast erosion within an urban district. He then went on to say that, of course, the county council could still contribute. But, is it likely that a county council, having refused initially to act, even when the urban authority had been prepared to contribute part of the cost, would now be willing to contribute in return part of the cost when the urban authority promote it? Was the alternative considered whereby in the event of an urban authority being prepared to guarantee a high percentage of the cost, something like 80 per cent. or over, that it would then become mandatory on the county council to proceed? It seems to me that there is some merit in this alternative procedure and I think the merit is this, that while the area of damage due to coast erosion may be highly localised, the whole phenomenon of coast erosion is very far from localised and that the conditions which are producing damage at one concentrated point may be arising quite some distance away. I think in phenomena of this sort, where the cause of what has occurred occurs over a wide area, that it would be preferable in general that it would be the larger local authority which should be considered in the initiating of the scheme, the survey and the report of it.

There is one separate and final point I should like to mention on this. The amendment provides for the position that where the county council decide not to proceed under Section 2, the urban authority can then come in. What is the position when the county council decide not to proceed at Section 5 stage? Is the position then that the urban authority will have to go right back to the beginning or would it not be preferable that there should be a similar provision in Section 5 that the urban authority can take up the running at this particular point?

My mind is running on very much the same lines as Senator Dooge. What I want to know is this. What precise difference does this amendment make? I understand it is to meet the occasion where a county council veto a project, probably because of the cost. What precise difference does it make? It appears to be precisely the same veto as they have to agree in paragraph (c) to make a contribution. If it were for financial reasons that the original decision not to proceed on it was taken and the urban council now act under the amendment, the county council appear still to have the same veto exactly by saying: "We shall not contribute", so I do not know what material difference the amendment makes.

I was inclined to suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that it might be wise to reconsider the position in this way. The urban council act under certain eventualities and it might be quite practicable in certain cases for the urban authority to carry the liability for the maintenance which would be required of the county authority if they acted. In that case, it should certainly be included if, as Professor Dooge says, the origin of the trouble lies probably in part of the county area. Then if the urban authority were carrying a substantial part of the maintenance liability, I think there should be an obligation on the county to chime in.

I shall answer as best I can Senator Dooge's query with regard to the reason for this amendment. In the first place it was felt by members in the Dáil, on both sides, that relations between an urban district council and the county council proper might be strained and it was also the opinion of the Deputies in question that were the power given to the urban council to initiate a scheme and if in due course an independent comprehensive report were received by them it might be a means of encouraging the county council as a whole. They might appreciate, as Senator Dooge pointed out, that the proposed measure might not only appear to benefit the urban district council but, in fact, could benefit a great part of the county at large.

I do not anticipate that there will be many requests under this section. It is most unlikely that relations would be so strained between an urban council and a county council that they would not proceed for the common good. Then again if the county council have the merits of the case brought home to them or, indeed, if the urban council, the initiators of the scheme, have the demerits brought home to them, either might think twice of proceeding further. In the case of the urban district council, certain information might come to light which might convince them that the scheme was not worth proceeding with. I do not think that will arise. I do not think that there will be any difficulty. I think that the urban councils in the main and the county authorities will co-operate.

The Parliamentary Secretary in answering the points which were raised suggested that the position under the Bill as amended would have the advantage that the county council would be able to receive a report which they otherwise might not receive. My reading of the section plus the amendment—I may be wrong—is that this is not the case at all, that the urban council are powerless to act until the county council have refused.

That is so.

In fact, it is only when the county council have refused that the urban district council are then empowered to act. If the Parliamentary Secretary had brought in an amendment allowing the urban council themselves to actab initio, without the matter ever having been brought forward on a report of the county council, I think his argument would then be relevant.

Surely the Senator will agree with me that the reason for this amendment is sound? A county council have a proposition from certain members; they throw out that proposition for various reasons; then the urban council have to initiate the measure. The reason why the county council are allowed to initiate it or otherwise is this. It would be most unfair to ask a small urban district to borrow, in the first place, the 20 per cent statutory contribution cost from the Local Loans Fund. It would be ridiculous for us to put in a section whereby the maintenance cost could be levied on a small urban district. In other words—let me come straight out and say this—if a county council throw out the suggestions, if the urban district council then get a report from the Commissioners of Public Works and follow the procedure laid down here, and the county council will say: "We will have no truck with the proposal notwithstanding the favourable report", that is the end of it.

Is it not clear, from the wording of the amendment, that the urban council may not proceed to promote the coast protection scheme unless and until the county council have agreed to make a contribution?

I do not understand coast protection, but so far as I read this amendment the position is that the county council will have refused to do anything about this particular matter. The urban council can only proceed to the promotion of a coast protection scheme when they first get the consent of the Minister for Local Government and when, secondly, the council of a county have undertaken to make a contribution. Is that so? If they, say, refuse the contribution in the first instance, by what process are they to make it in the second? Nothing will have been done in the interval.

The position is as the Senator says: the county council throw it out. The urban council put up a scheme, get a favourable report back, and still the county council could——

Can the urban council put up a scheme without the consent of the county council?

No. What the urban council can do is this. They can request a report from the Commissioners of Public Works, if the county council have refused to initiate a scheme.

Surely they cannot ask the Board of Works to make a preliminary examination unless the county council say: "We shall—be it what it may—contribute ½ per cent."

It is assumed that the county council will contribute portion of the cost of the report. Certain facts would, of course, arise from this report, as Senator Dooge has pointed out, which would show, for instance, that a scheme which would benefit small areas of the urban district could be of benefit to the county at large.

I do not quite understand this. As I see it the veto of the county council still applies at precisely the same point in relation to what is to happen because the end of paragraph (c) of the amendment makes it clear that you cannot ask the Commissioners to carry out a preliminary examination unless the county council have already agreed. If the county council are adamant in the first case, what new situation has arisen which one can hope will make them change their mind? I cannot see anything new developing in the situation, except that the urban council may decide to proceed, and hope, therefore, to embarrass the county council into doing something, but county councils are not as easily embarrassed as all that.

Personally, I do not see the point of this amendment at all, even though I am proposing it. I am bringing in this amendment to placate members on both sides of the House.

Not this House.

The Dáil. Evidently, in placating them, I am confusing the issue further here today. This is an extreme case. I do not think it will ever arise. In fact, the position is a bit ridiculous, if you like, in which a county council, having refused to initiate a scheme, have to sanction a contribution towards the cost of obtaining a report for the urban council. If they are to be consistent and throw it out, they may also say that they will not contribute. As against that I can envisage a deputation from the urban council going to the county council and saying: "Gentlemen, you have turned down this scheme. Would you contribute something—it will not be very much— so that we can come back to you with an impartial report from the Office of Public Works, and then would you reconsider the matter?"

This is seeking a change of heart on the part of the council. If you get that change of heart it is the end of the matter.

If the Parliamentary Secretary wants this amendment I have no objection, but it is rather confusing, and it contributes very little towards making this a more effective measure.

Amendment agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 2, as amended, stand part of the Bill".

There are two points I want to raise on the section and I shall raise them separately to facilitate discussion. The first refers to the inclusion in the last line on page 2—that is in subsection (2) (a) of Section 2—of the words, "on the nature and probable causes of the relevant encroachment of the sea". This subsection asks that in the very first report made to the county council or the urban district council—the promoting authority—by its engineers, they should report on the nature and probable causes of whatever encroachment is taking place.

I take it that the intention here is that the report which is made to the county council should carefully distinguish between loss of land which is due to coast erosion and progressive encroachment, and that which is due to storm damage. I think the wording in this subsection is most unfortunate because it is very unfair to ask anyone at the preliminary stage of work such as this to produce a professional report on the nature and probable causes of all the phenomena with which engineers have to deal. The problem of coast erosion is most complex. I think it is unfair to ask the engineers to report on what is the nature of what is going on in a particular stretch of coast or the probable causes of the damage.

Even with the distinction between storm damage and erosion damage I do not think this is the best wording. The nature and the probable causes of any encroachment on land cannot be stated by the county engineers. The experts of the Office of Public Works are not asked in any subsequent section to say anything about the nature and probable causes and, indeed, I might comment that at no time so far in the discussions on this Bill, has the Parliamentary Secretary, with the expert advice available to him, been able to clarify for us the precise distinction between coast erosion and other types of coast damage. It might be much better if, instead of using the words, "the nature and probable causes", we used the words which are used later in the Bill, and refer to continuing and progressive encroachment. If this Bill ever came into the courts for determining of the precise meaning of those words, they might give rise to a great deal of difficulty.

Perhaps I do not fully appreciate the point made by the Senator. Surely the word "probable" in the subsection is a type of let-out clause for a consulting engineer. Surely the Senator will agree that it would not be reasonable to expect a preliminary report to be fully comprehensive. At the end of subsection (2) (a) we mention works "which may be practicable and desirable to prevent the continuance of the encroachment and the estimated cost of the works". It would be difficult to differentiate in a report between actual erosion and what might happen in a storm due to an act of God. I think commonsense will prevail in these instances. If the Senator presses the matter, and if I am within the rules of the House, I am certainly prepared to consider an amendment on Report Stage.

I should like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary what is the meaning of the word "nature" in line 41, page 2.

That is about the hardest question anyone can ask about the English language, if I may say so.

I believe it is a word which should not appear in any Act of Parliament, and that is why I think it should be removed from this Bill.

What is the word?

Does the Senator want me to define the meaning of the word "nature"?

The answer has been given obviously.

I would be prepared to draft an amendment for the Report Stage, and meanwhile perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary might consider the matter and we would probably reach agreement on it.

It would not matter what I thought. Supposing I were to give the Senator my considered opinion as to the interpretation of the word "nature"per se, what would that matter in years to come or in the court of law envisaged by the Senator?

I may be very simple, but if I were county engineer I should imagine that I would produce a report on the damage being done. It seems to me that the nature of the damage being done would require a report on the type of damage being done to houses and so on and so forth. I think it is quite simple.

I agree with the Parliamentary Secretary who has admitted that whatever interpretation he puts on it does not matter. His offer to consider it for the Report Stage is, I think, a very fair and sensible way to deal with it.

Who is likely to bring an action on this section? As a matter of practical law, who could be damaged by a loose interpretation of the word "nature"? I do not see any practical risk.

There is a further point on Section 2, and, again, I think that the Parliamentary Secretary and I are in substantial agreement on what we would wish to see done under the section—that it should be in the nature of a preliminary report and that no undue amount of time should be spent on it.

Might I ask the Senator what he means by the word "nature"?

To get away from the word, we have an obligation here in this report to give an estimate of the type of work and the probable cost. While it is always desirable to have some indication of the work proposed to be done and the estimated cost, I wonder is it realistic to ask for these at this very early preliminary stage. I take it that the main purpose of looking for this preliminary report is to relieve pressure on the Office of Public Works and to ensure that requests for examination of possible coast erosion schemes do not come to the Office of Public Works merely by simple resolution of a local authority. If you ask that the report should indicate the work to be done and the estimated cost, it would be very difficult for the county engineer who would have to prepare such a report to make it without having some informal conference with the engineers in the Office of Public Works who have been dealing with this job. Therefore, I think that there should not be in the Bill an onus on the local authority to produce something which they may not have the skill or experience to produce at this early stage.

I should like to give the Seanad what I think the approach of a county engineer to a matter of this kind would be. In the first place, he might consider whether it would be better to substitute the word "extent" for the word "nature", to give the extent of the probable cost. Otherwise you might relate the word "nature" to the further description of the encroachment or damage liable to be done, that is, whether it would be in the nature of damage to buildings, harbour or amenities. You may simply confine your remarks to whether the damage was damage likely to occur to a harbour or to any other type of those buildings or structures set out later on in the Bill.

I do not think that the question of providing a preliminary estimate would be unreasonable, for this reason, that before the county council or any other council involved would consider a matter of this kind they would want to have a very rough idea as to whether the work came within their scope at all or not. In other words, if I were asked to prepare a report on something like this I would go out, examine the job, and report back that a particular building, harbour or other work in which the council were interested or another work of value was being damaged or liable to be damaged as a result of the action of the sea encroachment and erosion. I would give an account of the item likely to be damaged and just a rough estimate of the cost. It might be a matter of whether it could be corrected in my opinion by putting in groynes, in which case it would be something in the order of hundreds of pounds, or whether it would be necessary to put up a retaining wall, when it would be in the order of thousands of pounds. I would say to the county council that I had examined the place, that buildings, or harbours or something else in which they were interested were being damaged or endangered and give my opinion as to whether it would cost one, two, three, four or five thousand pounds. That would give the council immediately an idea as to whether they should proceed further with the investigation of this scheme. That is all that is intended in this section. I do not think that there is anything forbidding in the section but I suggest that the word "extent" should be substituted for the word "nature".

I should like to point out that the reason we have decided to put the responsibility of obtaining a report on the local authority is this —that the members of local authorities in the main are men with commonsense. Not only do they possess commonsense but they also have what the Commissioners of Public Works and their staff do not have, and that is local knowledge. It is very easy for a county manager, a county engineer and the elected representatives— for this is a reserved function—to decide whether damage to a harbour or to cliffs or to local amenities generally is storm damage or an act of God as opposed to continuous encroachment by the sea. That is why, in fact, we in the Office of Public Works would deem it a tremendous benefit to have this initial report locally. Perhaps I could repeat what I mentioned in the Dáil on this. I pointed out that the representations received to date by the Department of Local Government and the Office of Public Works all referred to storm damage, and I reminded the Deputies that the provisions of Section 2 enabled a county council to investigate and have a report prepared on any proposals for coast protection work. I mentioned that it was a good thing to determine the scope of the bill for the work that would be required by coast erosion, and also that we had devoted a good deal of thought to this and that we came to the conclusion that we could not improve on what was in the text already of subsection (3) of Section 2 which enables the county council to initate a scheme. I quote:

"if satisfied that land within the county is being progressively damaged by the continuing encroachment of the sea as distinct from occasional or abnormal storms, and that the encroachment is liable to endanger the safety of harbours, buildings, amenities in a residential area or other valuable property".

I trust this covers the points raised.

There is one further point I should like clarification on. Again I am in some difficulty as to the precise meaning of the words the Parliamentary Secretary has just quoted and that is that the encroachment is not to be encroachment which is due to an occasional storm or abnormal storm. These things I think are important because if the matters laid down in Section 2 are not met, the Office of Public Works will reject the scheme under Section 4. This would be one of the reasons they would have for rejecting the scheme.

I think we are in difficulty here in regard to the separation of "continuing encroachment" and "storm damage" and the use of the phrase "abnormal storms". Does the use of the word "abnormal" indicate that some storm damage would be allowed for and that loss of land or damage to property arising from normal storms could be allowed for as part of the scheme?

I should like to support this point. The fact is that a good deal of the erosion is the result of a succession of occasional storms. I live in an area where we more or less overlook a district where erosion is going on, the Killiney area. I live in Dalkey overlooking it. The erosion there is the result of a series of occasional or abnormal storms. I do think Senator Dooge is quite right that, perhaps, we should have closer definition of where the line lies between present erosion and those occasional abnormal storms because the two are not completely distinct. They are not distinct in the section as drafted.

If they are not distinct I would be prepared to consider on Report Stage clarifying amendments. On the points raised by the Senators, a succession of occasional storms, continuing occasional storms, could, of course, be considered as coast erosion. That is so. As a result of one appalling storm a position could be created in a county whereby the county engineer or the consultant employed by the council could state categorically that that storm gave rise to a situation whereby if certain measures were not adopted as soon as possible a serious costly problem of coastal erosion would ensue. It would be common sense to consider that as a case of unqualified coastal erosion. In other words, there does not have to be, as Senator Stanford remarked on his experience in Killiney, a succession of continuous isolated storms. One storm alone would be sufficient.

I should like to take the opportunity under this section to refer briefly to another point mentioned by Senator Dooge. We agreed that it would be difficult for a county engineer to assess the cost—let us suppose that a county council decided that such and such an area merited a report from the county engineer—in reporting back. If it is difficult for a county engineer to assess the cost, surely the ordinary laymen on the county council are entitled to ask a professional man to give a reasonable shot at what the cost would be? Then, again, how can they be expected to make up their mind to commit their local authority to quite a substantial contribution, bearing in mind that the local authority, the initiating body, put up 20 per cent of the capital cost of the scheme? It is not all levied on the rates in one year. It is borrowed from the Local Loans Fund and the repayment charges might not be considered high. I can speak myself from personal experience in the south. There are some schemes which could run into hundreds of thousands of pounds and the 20 per cent loan charge repayment on these schemes and the subsequent maintenance charges could be very serious impositions on a local authority. The elected members are entitled, in my opinion, to get some indication of cost. On a big scheme involving three or four hundred thousand pounds, you are not going to fall out with your county engineer if he is out £50,000 in his estimate. Again, he may well advise the county manager and the elected representatives that the job in question is beyond his scope and one for a specialist and a consultant.

I am happy to hear the Parliamentary Secretary say that there will not be a prohibition on schemes in which there is an element of storm damage. I think that is all Senator Stanford and I were seeking clarification on. It is quite true that one big storm might create conditions in which there would be subsequent erosion. Similarly, you could get a condition also whereby there could be a weakening due to coastal action which would then result, when a storm came, in damage which would be very much more severe owing to the previous weakening due to coastal action. In both these cases things are not automatically to be considered on their merits.

We accept the fact that one swallow could make a summer.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 3.
Question proposed: "That Section 3 stand part of the Bill."

All I am concerned with here is the question of the scope of the preliminary examination. In the preparation of works at this time we are required to draw the borderline between the preliminary examination and the preparation of the scheme from a technical point of view. It is necessary to draw this line in the drawing up of coast protection schemes under this particular Bill, because a complicated process is involved. Is there any intention to limit the extent of the preliminary examination in regard to its scope, the time spent on it and the money spent on it? Might I take the analogy from work that might be done by a consulting engineer or architect? He is asked to prepare a scheme. He prepares it and the report and the cost of that is limited due to the fact that he gets a fixed percentage for this work— something in the region of 1½ per cent. I think it is only fair to the promoting authority that there should be some limitation on the amount of work the Board of Works do because the promoting authority have already agreed to bear half the cost. In practice there should be, in effect, a limitation of the cost of preliminary examination to something like 3 per cent of the estimated cost of the whole scheme. Unless there was a guiding rule of this nature some of the promoting authorities could easily be let in for quite a substantial charge if the preliminary examination were carried on too far.

A preliminary examination by the Office of Public Works?

I can assure the Senator that is most unlikely. We suffer from a lack of engineers. I hope the Schools of Engineering will turn out more graduates but it is unlikely that we will allow any of our technical staff to go into any costly detail at the preliminary stage. The intention of the preliminary examination is to eliminate, at an early stage, all feckless cases which would have no prospect of being dealt with at a reasonable cost, and which are not, in fact, true cases of coast erosion at all, and to report accordingly to the local authority. Our technical advisers and the councils are reasonable men and they all appreciate that 50 per cent of the cost of the preliminary examination will have to be met by the promoting authority.

Senator Dooge will agree that a well-qualified consultant would not have the slightest difficulty, when he casts his eye over a specific problem, in reporting to the county engineer whether or not a scheme was worthy of detailed investigation.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 4.
Question proposed: "That Section 4 stand part of the Bill."

There is one point I should like clarification on in regard to subsection (2). I should like the Parliamentary Secretary to give us some idea of what would be the reasons for which the Office of Public Works would reject a scheme. One which comes to mind straight away is a case where the cost is completely exorbitant and the Office of Public Works do not consider that the Central Fund should be asked to promote such a scheme, and the second is where it is not a true case of coast erosion. Are those the only two grounds?

That would be more or less the interpretation of the section. Let us take an exaggerated example. Suppose a man had two acres of land and only those two acres would benefit from a scheme costing, say, £1/4 million. We could put up magnificent embankments and protective cliffs. It would obviously be completely uneconomic. It would never be sanctioned by the Minister for Finance. The interpretation of the Senator is the correct one.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 5.
Question proposed: "That Section 5 stand part of the Bill."

Again, there is the problem of the urban authority which is a point I touched on in connection with Section 2. If a promoting authority who are a county council withdraw at the Section 5 stage in regard to a scheme which lies within an urban authority what would be the position of the urban authority? Would it then have to go back to Section 2 or could one by a simple amendment allow it to act on the Office of Public Works' report which had been sent to the county council and rejected by them?

In other words, what the Senator asks is whether an urban council can proceed themselves.

Might I clarify the matter? Under Section 2 where a county council refuse to proceed the urban authority can make themselves the promoting authority. Under Section 5 on receipt of the report from the Board of Works a county council could decide not to proceed. If at that stage the scheme were referred to an urban authority and the county council were unwilling to proceed but the urban authority wished to proceed and were willing to bear the cost, what would be the procedure?

If the county council, notwithstanding the fact that a sound and sensible report comes back to the urban council, and they wish to proceed, do not wish to do so, that is the end of it.

That is the point I made.

Then the urban authority are vetoed for good.

If the urban authority are prepared to make the necessary contribution, they accept the scheme.

We are trying, to the best of our ability, to cater for all reasonable eventualities and I do not think it would be either fair or reasonable to expect an urban council themselves to bear 20 per cent. of the cost. Senator Moloney suggests that they also take over the maintenance charges in the years to come.

This is a scheme the Board of Works say is good and the county council are not prepared to go ahead. The Board of Works say it is worthwhile and then the urban district council say: "We would like to go ahead on it." Remember they cannot imperil themselves financially without the consent of the Minister for Local Government so there is a safeguard in their financial impetuosity in this particular direction. I feel perhaps there is a case here for giving them some means for going ahead.

I should like the Parliamentary Secretary to consider that point, too, because I can see the force of the argument. I know cases where the urban areas are big enough and where the council can proceed themselves independent of the county councils.

If, as the Senator says, the report is sound and the urban district council still want to go on, why would the county council refuse? We have to be logical and assume that a reasonable position will obtain. Why would the county council, if a report came back to an urban authority, still refuse? They are neither infallible nor inflammable. Before it has reached the Office of Public Works, possibly under protest or otherwise, the county council have agreed to a contribution to the cost of the report of the examination. Then, if a favourable report comes back to the urban council and is submitted to the county council, why would they then refuse, if it is a good thing for the people within their area, within their county, or within a section of their county? Surely, there could be only one reason why the county council would refuse and that would be one of financial consideration. Therefore, the corollary is: if the county council jibbed at the cost it would be a complete millstone around the neck of the urban council. That is logic.

I do not accept that that is logical at all. First of all, the urban council are not going to do it for the fun of the thing. The fact that the council refuse in the first instance does not necessarily mean that that would be the correct decision. The Parliamentary Secretary poses a question. There could be several answers as to why the county council refuse. They might not like the urban council. They might be keener on getting some of these schemes going in other areas where they would regard them as being more beneficial. But, what I cannot understand is where the county council are not prepared to come in and where the urban council feel confident and entitled to come in, that they should not be allowed to go in as a promoting authority both for the initial expenses, if necessary, and more particularly for the final stages. There are very few urban councils that would be likely to take advantage of this scheme under the Bill at all. I can conceive of certain eventualities arising where it might pay an urban council to seek assistance under the provisions of the Bill, with the county council dissenting. I am still open to conviction from the Parliamentary Secretary, if he can show me some good reason why the urban council should not be allowed go ahead. I would then accept that there is a point in controlling the issue at that stage. At the moment I cannot see any point.

Is it not reasonable to anticipate that a county council would feel there was no urgency in this matter? For financial reasons they had other burdens which took priority. At the same time the urban council might feel that it was a matter of great urgency to them and to their prosperity and, therefore, they were prepared to pay the cost. I do not think they should be debarred from doing that. Some way should be allowed to the urban council. I agree with the Parliamentary Secretary that it is an eventuality which we will not meet often. I belong to a county council. I could quite visualise it happening in the course of a number of years.

I could see considerable difficulty about the proposal that urban councils should be allowed to proceed themselves and to pay. It seems to me, while there are some counties that could, perhaps, afford to do this, the great majority of urban councils could not. I would be afraid that once all urban councils were given the power to promote and pay for the schemes themselves, then it would be for the county councils to say: "All right, you pay for the scheme, it has nothing to do with us." The result would be that in a great many cases you would have a number that could not possibly afford to promote schemes themselves. Then once they had the power at all they would be told by the county council: "You go ahead with the scheme; we will have nothing to do with it." I think it would be a very dangerous provision.

On a point of clarification, what is being sought here is not power of initial promotion but, as it were, picking up a promotion after the county council had stopped halfway.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 6 agreed to.
SECTION 7.
Question proposed: "That Section 7 stand part of the Bill".

In regard to the matter to be shown in the scheme I am concerned with the question of the estimated cost, which is Section E of the things which are to be shown in the scheme. Has the promoting authority any protection against the final cost being well in excess of the estimate under Section 7? The position is that, following the receipt of the scheme made under Section 7, the promoting authority must bind themselves to provide 20 per cent of the cost. After this, the carrying out of the works is a matter for the Office of Public Works. As I read the Bill, there is no protection against a large excess of final cost over the estimate. I might, perhaps, put forward a point here for consideration, that it might be reasonable that the promoting authority should only have to bind themselves to pay the proper proportion of the estimate plus any agreed variation in works plus an adjustment for the cost of materials and labour during the carrying out of the scheme.

The State will contribute towards the capital cost up to a sum not exceeding 80 per cent. If it is 80 per cent the promoting authority will contribute 20 per cent. For the sake of argument, say the scheme was estimated to cost a quarter of a million pounds and the final cost turned out to be £350,000, an increase of £100,000, does the Senator then suggest that the promoting authority should not have to contribute so much of the extra——

It should not be automatic since they have no control in regard to the excess of expenditure over estimate.

Nor has the State. An estimate of the cost is worked out. At that stage it will be reasonably accurate and, I presume, quantities will be taken out, though I doubt if they could be taken out on such type of work. It would be difficult. Surely, if there is an increase in wages and or materials, then the proportion will still be 80 to 20 per cent. If the original contract were for £250,000 and the final cost was £350,000, the State will still pay 80 per cent of the final cost. The local authority will pay 20 cent, borrowed from the Local Loans Fund. I can assure the House that it will be the anxiety of the Office of Public Works, their engineers or consultants to ensure that the best possible value for money is got.

Under the Bill it is laid down that the work should be carried out by the Office of Public Works.

In other words, the Office of Public Works will carry out the physical work which, in some other circumstances, might be done by a contractor. If the work were done by a contractor, there would be a contract price and that contract price would be adjusted for agreed variation in works, in the cost of materials and labour. What it would not be adjusted for is any mistake of the contractor in the making up of his contract price or any inefficiency which crept into the working of the contractor on the site compared to his anticipated efficiency. Since the central authority are laying down that this work is to be done by the Office of Public Works it is reasonable that they should carry a major portion of any consequences which arise from that.

You are asking the local authority to bind themselves to 20 per cent of a particular cost, and they have no control then over the subsequent expenditure of the money, whereas the Central Government have. The Minister for Finance himself is in charge of the Office which will be actually carrying out this particular work. I think it is perfectly reasonable, as the Parliamentary Secretary said, that adjustments in costs of materials and labour should be allowed for if, in the course of the work, particularly work of this type, it appears that the work should be varied. Then if there is an agreement between the local authority and the Office of Public Works that a certain variation would improve the scheme, I believe also the estimate should be adjusted. Apart from that, I think it is a little unfair that the local authority should have to pledge itself as to 20 per cent of the estimated cost when the estimate is not confirmed by any guarantee.

I shall point out to the Senator that the bulk of the increase is still being borne by the State and the taxpayer as to 80:20. I should like to see this work carried out for the most part by contractors. The fact that the Office of Public Works would carry out the work does not mean that we could not put it up for tender. We employ consultant engineers, for instance. The contract would be between whomever it was, the Cementation Company Ltd., for example, and the Office of Public Works. We would be the people who would do the job, but there is nothing to prevent us from having it done by contract. I myself would be in favour of such work being done by contract. There will be other work of such a complicated nature that I doubt if any contractor or, indeed, our technical advisers, could give a completely accurate statement to the Minister. In such instances the most reasonable method would be a type of tied-to-time and material contract and a schedule of rates.

To a certain extent I appreciate the point made by the Senator. I can assure him that our experience in drainage has been that our estimates have not been exceeded in very many cases. What would be the Senator's approach if a scheme estimated at £250,000 cost £150,000? Would he pass the benefit on to the taxpayers if we saved so many thousands of pounds on a job?

If the Parliamentary Secretary writes that into the Bill I shall be happy—plus and minus.

I should like to allay any anxiety the Senator may have, but from my limited knowledge of the Office of Public Works there will not be any gross or excessive increase on the estimates except for the contingencies mentioned by the Senator, for example, increases in wages or in the cost of materials. I hope, as I have said, that in the main, the work will be done by contract.

I welcome this Bill, coming from a county which has suffered very much from coastal erosion.

We are on Section 7.

Senator Dooge talked about the proportion of 80 and 20. My county has suffered considerably from the ravages of the sea, and we had to put up quite an amount of money for Lahinch, Miltown Malbay and Spanish Point.

There is one question I should like to ask. It may be foolish but I think it should be asked. We are talking about estimated costs at the moment. Suppose it turns out that a scheme costs £50,000 over and above the estimate, who pays for it, and under what section is it apportioned?

Where is that stated in the Bill? I cannot quite see it.

Section 16, I think.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 8 agreed to.
SECTION 9.
Question proposed: "That Section 9 stand part of the Bill".

We have been talking up to the present about the people who sanction the work, the people who do the work and the engineers who plan the work. I think that now we should turn our attention for a moment to the people who may suffer a little under this Bill, that is, the people whose land will be taken over compulsorily. There is one way in which we can ease the blow for them under this section. Subsection (4) provides for the serving of notice on a householder by post. This matter has been raised in the Seanad before and I think it should be raised again. That should be "by registered post".

It is not quite good enough in a matter of this kind, which may involve the obliteration of someone's ancestral home, or considerable interference with his property, that a post man should simply walk up to the door and drop a letter into the letterbox, and it should be considered sufficient service of notice. The man may be abroad with his family, and he may not return for a month or two, or perhaps a servant or a child may take the letter and carelessly mislay it. There is no evidence that the letter was delivered.

I do not want to delay the House, but in a story by de Maupassant, a parish priest in France, who had served faithfully in a certain parish, was waiting for promotion from his Bishop. Everyone gave him to understand that he would receive promotion in a certain year. Just about Easter time a robin started to build a nest in his letterbox. He was a kind-hearted priest and he let the robin build the nest, lay her eggs and hatch out the chickens. Later he removed the nest and found underneath a letter asking him would he accept promotion, but it was then too late for him to accept it. Perhaps that is irrelevant in a sense, but I do not think it is entirely so.

The mere casual dropping of a letter in a letterbox by a postman is not good enough in a serious matter of this kind. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary, even if it is an innovation in Bills of this kind, to introduce the word "registered" before the word "post". That is the least we can ask in a section which affects the houses, homes and lands of our citizens. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to consider accepting on Report Stage an amendment introducing the word "registered" before the word "post".

I would have no objection to accepting that. It appears to be reasonable that the notice should be served by registered letter. The Senator might also consider that instead of saying "registered post" we might say that a statutory notice should be published in a paper circulated in the area, or in a national paper, or some such clause.

It just occurs to me that if notice is served by registered letter it is served only on the people who are deemed to be the owners. There might be, from time to time in rural Ireland, some individual or individuals who might claim to be the owners in question. Suppose there was a case, not of a gentleman going to the south of France with his wife and family, but of a man who went away to Australia and the title to his land was the subject of argument in the courts, to establish rightful ownership. Supposing that matter wassub judice and the man was in Australia when the letter was delivered by registered post. He could not possibly make his comments in time. The important point is that the rightful owners as decided by the court might not know what was happening at all. I agree to consider the matter on the Report Stage.

While I have sympathy with Senator Stanford's point of view, I think that there is a greater difficulty about registered post. A registered letter is not delivered unless there is somebody to receive it. Assuming that the owner or occupier is in England or Australia or some place else the registered letter will not be delivered but will be returned. The same objection holds good in case of the ordinary post. It may never be received. I think the suggestion of the Parliamentary Secretary that notice should be served by giving rather lengthy notice in a newspaper circulating in the district is the proper solution to the problem.

I did mention publication in one of the national papers. Section 8, subsection 2 (a) mentionedIris Oifigiúil and one or more newspapers circulating in the county of the promoting authority. I would be prepared to consider one of the national daily papers. An interested party might not live in the county. The subsection also covers publication in a newspaper circulating in “any other county the council of which named the promoting authority pursuant to this Act”. It says that the notice shall state “that the coast protection scheme has been prepared and also stating the place or places at which and the period, not being less than one month, during which a copy of the scheme will be available for inspection in pursuance of this section”. It occurred to me that in the cases mentioned by the Senator four weeks might be considered a bit short, and I would be prepared to consider the possibility of extending that period as well.

The Parliamentary Secretary is being so considerate in this matter that I was wondering whether, while it might not be necessary to give him powers to deal with the loosening of rubble, he would be given some power to deal with the tides while this work of discovering people in Australia and so on was continuing.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 10.
Question proposed: "That Section 10 stand part of the Bill".

In subsection 5 (b) of this section there is a provision which allows the Minister for Finance to confirm the scheme, or to vary it without reference back to the parties concerned with its preparation including the local authority who have undertaken to meet a certain proportion of the cost. I wonder is it really necessary to have this provision in this form. No doubt it is administratively convenient that the scheme could be amended at this stage, but should it be possible for it to be amended by the Minister for Finance without reference back to the authority? Would it not be preferable if he wishes to vary a scheme and in particular to make additions to it that he should return it to the Commissioners of Public Works and the promoting authority for their final confirmation?

It would be a bad thing to take these powers. After all, if the Minister for Finance does make an alteration or addition to a scheme it is only reasonable to refer back to the promoting authority, who have local knowledge, an intimation of what he proposes to do. It might not appear to the Minister and his advisers here in Dublin that there was any impediment to what they proposed as a good measure, but if they referred the matter back it might come to light that the proposal was stupid or illogical or likely to cause great damage to some other part of the coast. This reference back would not unduly delay things, because the local elected representatives would be very resentful if the Minister made alterations. If I were a member of a local authority——

We seem to be at cross purposes. What I am anxious about is that the matter might go through without reference back to them.

It would not. It would not arise.

Perhaps I could qualify that. If the Commissioners make their determination under subsections (2) and (3) of the section and if the promoting authority then make their final determination and send it under subsection (4), where is there power for the Minister to refer it back to them?

The position is that there might be some confusion with regard to the Minister and the Commissioners of Public Works. In fact, you could call the Commissioners the Minister for Finance for all intents and purposes. The section provides that the promoting authority shall consider observations received and submit a report to the Commissioners. If the authority want the scheme altered they will say so in the report. The Commissioners will examine the report and determine what alterations, if any, should be made. They will give notice of their determination to the promoting authority, who will make a further declaration that the scheme is or is not to be proceeded with. If the promoting authority decide to go ahead with the scheme the Commissioners will then submit it to the Minister for Finance, and the Minister after any necessary consultations with other Ministers may make an Order refusing to confirm it or confirming it with or without alteration.

If the Minister confirms it with additions the promoting authority have no redress.

No. Copies of the promoting Order will be sent to the Commissioners and the promoting authority who will notify all interested parties.

Can they do anything if they disagree with what the Minister has done?

Yes, of course, they can. This is a matter in which the Minister for Finance will have no vested interest, or will have no interest except on advice tendered to him. He may put in some proviso after consultation with his colleagues. For instance the Minister for Local Government might bring it to his attention that such and such a road might be cited for a road widening scheme at some future date and might ask if the line could be brought back an extra ten feet or something like that. I can assure the Seanad that it will be purely minor, and I can guarantee that it will not affect in any way the scheme whereby a local authority representative would say "we would never have proceeded with this if it were to be changed by the Minister". It will not be a change of any substantial nature.

My only concern is that the subsection does leave it an open question. The power is an open one, and the promoting authority would have no redress because while the Minister for Finance must inform them of what decision he has made, subsection (6) says that within one month of the receipt of the order the promoting authority shall serve notice. They have no option but to proceed on receipt of the scheme from the Minister with whatever additions he would like to put in.

This might be the appropriate section on which to refer to a question I raised on the Second Reading. That was the problem of my objection to the spending of public money on coast erosion schemes where, as a result, there might not be access for the public to the foreshore. We have had this problem of people from the Continent coming here and buying land in recent years. I do not want to be critical of them and their approach to the interpretation of private property. We cannot do anything about that general question under this Bill but certainly where we proceed to spend public money on a coast protection scheme I should like to be reassured that the Minister has power and would take power to see to it that as a result of the spending of State money the coast so protected would be open to the ordinary Irish public. I think the Minister had some sympathy with the point when I raised it on the Second Stage and he promised to look into it.

I appreciate the point made by Senator Murphy. When the coast protection scheme has been carried out we will ensure that if we disturb in any way the existing path or roadway or right-of-way it will be our bounden duty to see that such an amenity is preserved and that the facilities enjoyed by the local people will continue.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 11 to 15, inclusive, agreed to.
SECTION 16.
Question proposed: "That Section 16 stand part of the Bill."

My reading of Section 16 is that the cost of the initial local authority report is not included in the final cost which is to be divided in the proportion of 80 per cent and 20 per cent. I should like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary if it would not be fair where a scheme has gone to completion that the work which had been done—and it will not be much, as we both agree——

Thank you. That is quite clear.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 17.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

On this section, there are three amendments, Nos. 3, 4 and 5, on the Order Paper and it is suggested that they be taken together.

Government amendment No. 3:
In subsection (1) (a), line 48, to insert "in case the promoting authority is the council of a county," before "the corporation".

This section enables the promoting authority to obtain contributions towards the amount payable by them from other local authorities, harbour authorities and owners or occupies of protected land. The section empowers the promoting authority to enter into and carry out agreements in that regard. The harbour authority may borrow from the Local Loans Fund for the purpose of such contributions. Local authorities are already enabled under the Local Government (No. 2) Act, 1960, to borrow. Under the section as it stands the county council would have no power to contribute to the costings being promoted by an urban council under the amendment of Section 2. Amendment No. 4 provides that the county council may with the consent of the Minister for Local Government make a contribution to the urban district council. Amendments Nos. 3 and 5 are drafting amendments which follow from amendment No. 4.

Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 4:
In subsection (1), page 12, to insert the following paragraph before paragraph (b):
"(b) in case the promoting authority is the council of an urban district, any council of a county shall contribute such amount as they may, with the consent of the Minister for Local Government, have agreed upon with the promoting authority,".
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 5:
In subsection (2), page 12, line 19, to delete "or (c)" and substitute ", (c) or (d)".
Amendment agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 17, as amended, stand part of the Bill".

I am concerned with the question of the contributions by certain authorities to the promoting authority. If these various authorities, which are listed in the section, agree to contribute certain amounts of money based on the estimate which is produced by the Office of Public Works, the position would then be, if the final cost of the scheme exceeded that particular estimate, that the amount of the excess of cost over estimate which would proportionately fall on the contributing authority would have to be borne by the promoting authority themselves. Is that correct?

Twenty per cent?

My point is this. The promoting authority undertake to pay 20 per cent. Before they make that undertaking they may in turn have got undertakings from various authorities, within their district, harbour authorities, owners or occupiers of land,et cetera. If the cost exceeds the estimate would the promoting authority have to bear the full 20 per cent of the increase and only be able to recover from the contributing authority their proportion of the estimate and not their proportion of the cost?

The position would appear to be that we are only dealing with the promoting authority. The onus is on them to collect. In what proportion or in what way they do their business, is their own affair.

The promoting authority would be advised to ask for a percentage contribution rather than a definite cash contribution. Is that the position?

It would depend very much on what agreement the promoting authority have with the various other bodies contributing—interested parties like the harbour authority. It would be up to them to do the best deal possible and have a let out clause for such a contingency as an increase in the final cost.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 18.
Question proposed: "That Section 18 stand part of the Bill."

Section 18 deals with the question of the certificate of completion of the works. The nature of the work of coast erosion is such that it is extremely difficult to distinguish between works and maintenance unless one is called on to do so by legal provisions such as occur in the Bill before us at the moment. Indeed, many of the most successful schemes of coast erosion have been schemes in which trial works were carried out, left for a few years to see how they go and then further works done, so that in many successful coast erosion schemes there can be works and maintenance going on at the same time. There can be maintenance of stage one of a coast erosion scheme going on before stage two is actually carried out.

I think this would lead to some difficulty over a certificate of completion. It might, indeed, be better if it were made quite clear that there could be certificates of partial completion in regard to certain parts of the work. I think this is a vitally important point. From a technical point of view it is extremely difficult to distinguish in many of these schemes between maintenance trial works and substantial works. We are in the difficulty here that there is a great financial difference between the two, because works are being subsidised to the extent of 80 per cent by the central authority and maintenance is not being subsidised at all. Were the financial provisions for works and for maintenance the same, there would be absolutely no difficulty. I think there is a real difficulty on this particular point. I think that it might be well that the certificate of completion should be capable of being given in stages. That may be possible under the section. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to enlighten me on that. Quite apart from the giving of the certificate in stages, I think it might be as well that the certificate of completion should not be an arbitrary decision only of the Office of Public Works.

It should also be something that would be agreed upon by the local authority who from that moment on bear 100 per cent of the cost of the works. I would suggest the amendment of this particular section so that there would be agreement between the Office of Public Works and the local authority as to the point of completion of the works and in the event of disagreement that the matter should be submitted to an arbitrator nominated by the Institute of Civil Engineers of Ireland or some such person. The real difficulty here, which is not the case in building or arterial drainage schemes, is that the borderline between works and maintenance is very shadowy.

I should like to support the suggestions made by Senator Dooge in this connection. I am quite well aware that in all the dealings under this Bill the local authority are called upon at various stages to agree: they must agree to promote the scheme, agree to having a final scheme prepared and agree to pay 20 per cent of the cost of the work when it is completed, but at no stage from the time of the Office of Public Works commence to carry out the operation is any provision made in the Bill or implied in it to enable the local authority's engineer to carry out an inspection to see that the works are in accordance with the plans and specifications. When the Commissioners of Public Works say that the scheme is completed the local authorities have to accept that whether or not they are satisfied at that stage that the works have been completed to the satisfaction of their engineer. This is a matter which causes a considerable amount of difficulty between local authorities and the Commissioners of Public Works and it goes a bit further because later Section 20, subsection (2), states:

In addition and without prejudice to the general powers conferred on the Commissioners by subsection (1) of this section, it shall be lawful for the Commissioners, for the purposes of maintenance referred to in that subsection, to execute such improvements to works as appear to them to be minor matters properly capable of being regarded as maintenance.

In other words, the Commissioners of Public Works complete the job and the local authority are responsible up to that stage for 20 per cent of the total cost. Now the Commissioners of Public Works in the course of a month or two, gaining in knowledge and experience of the behaviour of tides and currents, may decide that something further is necessary but they can regard that further scheme as maintenance for which the local authority have to pay the full cost.

Finally, the matter assumes another and a greater importance when we read Section 23 which provides that at any stage the Commissioners of Public Works may decide that the works have to be abandoned. They decide that works have ceased to be of real importance or a real protection to the coast and they abandon them. They abandon them without the concurrence of the local authority or consultation with them although up to one stage the local authority have contributed 20 per cent of the cost and 50 per cent up to the point at which the Commissioners decide to abandon the scheme as no longer being suitable or effective.

I think it should be written in, as Senator Dooge suggested, that there should be closer liaison between the authority promoting the scheme and the Commissioners of Public Works on the progress of the works, the certificate of completion and the maintenance work subsequently to be carried out by the Commissioners of Public Works entirely at the responsibility and cost of the local authority.

On Section 18 I should like to say in reply to Senators that the points mentioned by them have a certain amount of merit. Their argument is: why should the Office of Public Works be judge and jury in the interpretation of the words "date of completion"? Take, however, the actual position. If the promoting authority are contributing 20 per cent of the cost it is only logical and natural to assume that the county engineer or his assistant will hold a watching brief, and a very close watching brief, on behalf of the promoting authority. Therefore, it should not present much difficulty to him in co-operation with my officials to decide if, in fact, the works can be certified as having been completed. All the points raised by the Senators seem to be based on the assumpion that no one talks to anyone else and that relations are not happy between the Office of Public Works and county engineers. In actual fact, on arterial drainage and so on there is great co-operation and if a county engineer or his assistant said: "We do not think the works are completed and we feel that you should not give a certificate of completion due to X, Y and Z reasons" I am sure that we would comply with their suggestions.

If Senators wish to improve the phraseology I am quite willing to consider changes. I appreciate the points mentioned by them but how they will improve the phraseology I do not know, whether by inserting instead of "arriving at a date for completion" the words "three months" or "when a certain period elapses from the anticipated date of completion". It is difficult to know what should be done but I am quite willing to consider the matter further.

I thank the Parliamentary Secretary for that. I should like to emphasise the point that this particular type of scheme gives the greatest difficulty. In arterial drainage there is some difficulty but it is not really as bad as schemes of this type.

There is a point I should have raised and perhaps I may be allowed now to mention it briefly. In coast protection there could be two schemes of equal merit, one heavy on works and light on maintenance, the other light on works and heavy on maintenance. The position under the financial provisions of the Bill is that the one that is heavy on maintenance and light on works imposes a greater financial burden on the promoting authority but under the Bill as it stands the Board of Works prepare the scheme and it might perhaps be preferable if the Board of Works prepared in outline two or three schemes and then discussed them with the promoting authority because there is no one best way for curing the particular problem. We can arrive at the most economic scheme but the most economic scheme from the point of view of central funds is not necessarily the most economic scheme from the point of view of local funds and there could be a real conflict of interest on this point. What is needed is something to eliminate that conflict of interest.

I should just like to compliment the Parliamentary Secretary on his very refreshing approach to this problem and the readiness with which he met the suggestions put up by Senators who have had great experience in this work both on the theoretical and on the practical side. I was delighted to see the approach of the Parliamentary Secretary and I wish to congratulate him very heartily.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 19 to 22, inclusive, agreed to.
SECTION 23.
Question proposed: "That Section 23 stand part of the Bill".

I should like to support what Senator Flanagan said in regard to the question of abandonment of works. I think all that has been said in regard to completion of works also relates to the question of abandonment of works. This ought to be a matter of joint agreement as well and, perhaps, we could discuss this on Report Stage.

I should like to point out that it is not for the Commissioners of Public Works under this section to interpret whether works should be abandoned or not. We take our riding instructions from the Minister for Finance. He instructs us. We do not do anything. In other words, I envisage a situation arising whereby a deputation of the county council or the local Deputies or Senators of all Parties might seek an interview with the Minister for Finance and point out that such and such works were a hazard, a danger to children and to the amenities of a resort generally, and the Minister might first call for a report from us, so it will be seen we do not of our own volition come along and abandon something. In actual fact, to reinforce my argument further, may I point out that the interested party in abandoning a scheme would be the local authority because they would be paying for the maintenance costs?

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 24 and 25 agreed to.
SECTION 26.
Question proposed: "That Section 26 stand part of the Bill".

I know there is great reluctance at all times towards making grants from the Central Fund for continuing maintenance but I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to consider carefully that coast erosion maintenance is not maintenance in the sense that it is in regard to public buildings and public works generally. A coast protection scheme is not something that is done within a small unit of time and maintained thereafter. It is a continuing process. Maintenance of works of this type is not pure maintenance. There is always an element of works, an element of design, an element of trial in it, and I think if there were to be a contribution from the Central Fund for works of maintenance many of the difficulties we have been talking about on earlier sections would be greatly alleviated. I am not saying that we should carry on what has been done on works, that 80 per cent. should be from Central Fund but I do not think any real principle would be abandoned if the Central Fund made a 20 per cent. contribution, that is, if the charges were reversed for maintenance because this is a type of scheme which need not be used as a precedent for the granting of maintenance costs on other types of work because of the very nature of the work involved. I would earnestly suggest that if we had a slight contribution from the Central Fund for maintenance a great deal of discussion and what might at times be bitterness in regard to completion and other matters would be greatly alleviated and might well vanish.

In the first place, I would not have any authority to commit the Minister for Finance to such a consideration. The Senator is aware of the provisions of the Arterial Drainage Act, 1945. Rosslare is a unique case. Started in 1957, it will not be finished until 1964. We have learned a lot from our experience there. Let us leave out Rosslare entirely for the moment and not look on it as creating a precedent, but let us take a case such as Kilkee in County Clare where the late Nicholas O'Dwyer did a great job on the vertical face of the cliff which was undermining the roadway. Not a shilling had to be spent on that job since. Were the cases in general of such a type as the Kilkee case, of the vertical cliff without any further maintenance being required, a problem would not arise. The other extreme is the Rosslare case. The only let out I see would be, should a problem arise involving work of a costly nature after the certificate of completion is given then there is absolutely no reason whatsoever why such a new problem and such a costly problem could not be considered as a new coast protection scheme, probably of a minor nature. We arrive at the point that the Senator seems to be worried about. In other words there would be a possibility, if the Commissioners of Public Works gave such a certificate of completion and three years afterwards another problem arose which was a coast erosion problem, it would be reasonable to initiate another scheme on those lines. It should not take long, all the relevant information obtained for the purposes of the first scheme being available. Then what might have been classified as maintenance, and chargeable to the local authority as to 100 per cent, could be classified as a coastal erosion scheme to be paid for on the 80 to 20 per cent basis.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 27 to 29, inclusive, agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Report Stage ordered for Wednesday, 8th May, 1963.